by Circles Robinson
HAVANA TIMES, July 22 — An appeal hearing for imprisoned US citizen Alan Gross takes place on Friday in Havana.
Gross has already served 20 months in jail of his 15-year sentence for endangering Cuba’s national security.
According to US State Department officials the fate of Gross has a lot to do with any future moves on Washington’s part to ease its half century hostility towards Cuba.
Secretary of State Clinton has repeatedly demanded his immediate release.
Working for Development Alternatives Inc., a company with hefty contracts to carry out US government programs in countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq, Gross was sentenced in March of introducing illegal communications equipment into Cuba.
Development Alternatives was under contract of US-AID in one of its “democracy” programs geared towards regime change in Cuba.
Gross had denied he was part of a plan to destabilize the Cuban government claiming his mission was only to help the Cuban Jewish community have good Internet connectivity. He said he was unaware of working for a US government program that seeks regime change.
“Friday’s hearing affords Alan another opportunity to reiterate, through his Cuban counsel, that his actions on the island were never intended to be — and in fact never were — a threat to the Cuban government,” Gross’s lawyer, Peter J. Kahn, said in statement reported on by Reuters.
“The family remains hopeful that Cuba’s high court will render a decision that will allow Alan to be released immediately, having already served nearly 20 months in a Cuban prison,” Kahn added.
Representatives of the US Interests Section in Havana were invited to the hearing.
A ruling on the appeal could take days or weeks to be handed down.
For more on the Alan Gross case see: Cuba Finds Alan Gross Guilty, Gets 15-Years